You know them too. The kind of people that do not make much of an impression on you at first — until they begin to talk. And then, the face you saw a second ago melts away, and then a spirit within them bursts forth to reveal some kind of joy and sweetness. And you could just sit, listen and watch how they navigate through life.
Including my 4 boys, the “just perfect” Bible School we found by surprise hosted only seventeen children. Only seventeen children. These teachers thought that seventeen children to have for a week was nothing less than an honor and a privilege. The teachers’ faces were lined with wrinkles, and they had watched many parts of their lives move on to become other things, including the past. Yet, they know how to live in the present. The $47 they raised for a fund-raising project was cause for celebration.
On Sunday morning, the town hang-out, Tom’s Donuts, has more cars in its parking lot than this church does. Tom’s is a morning-on-the-lake tradition that even my husband remembers from his childhood.
This church sits right next door. So the church graciously offers its parking lot to the donut shop. In exchange, the church gets free donuts. Instead of shortbread, the boys had Tom’s Donuts for snack each day. The boys jumped out of bed every morning to get to Bible School on time. Do you think it’s the Donuts?
The little ones are busy making butterflies, and lambs (and learning they are God’s special lambs) while the older ones are folding this little angel.
I have no idea what the “doctrine” or belief of the church is — only that they believe that God’s children are precious little lambs. The only message I saw was one of abundance, patience and joy. And the way they handled time was soothing — they acted as if they had all the time in the world. I remember people like that.
There was an elderly couple that drove an hour each way to come in every morning to help. Someone else brought an overflowing tray of sweet cherry tomatoes from her garden to share for the picnic. I couldn’t stop eating them. She made sure that tray of tomatoes was in my car before I left that day.
At the picnic, the minister stood up and spoke, in a Santa Clause-loves-you-kind of way, “kids, these ladies thought real hard about what you would like. And they came up with some food that they thought you would all like. And, after the hot dogs, we’ve got lots of cupcakes for you too.”
His face kept popping into my head as I tried to go to sleep that night. He was the one who praised everything. So grateful, he was for the $47 in the offering plate, for the hot dogs, the sun, for the time we shared, and for the children. I couldn’t sleep — his words, the way he smiled, his kind voice, and his eternal optimism were playing out in my head. I felt ashamed for some of the petty things I complain about, and for all the things I cast aside without being grateful. Which one of his virtues do I need to cultivate? Where do I start?
Why is Bible School so important to me? When I was a little girl, my Bible School was run by sweet little old ladies, who loved all of us very much. Forty years later, I stepped foot on the grass at my Mom’s house, unable to catch my breath as I looked at her tulips blooming in the gorgeous sunshine. How could they possibly stand so tall and beautiful when the person who planted them was dead? My pain at that moment was the deepest I’ve ever felt. From there, I looked up to the top of the hill. There was a little red brick house. Inside was a sweet lady who sat me on her lap over 40 years ago and taught me songs at Bible school. She was still there. I ran up the hill, and knocked on her door, and there she was, waiting for me.
No, I really don’t expect any of my boys, as grown men, to run into the arms of their Bible School teachers. But, I do think their kindness and nurturing will stay with them, for a lifetime. And it’s good for my children to feel love from other people too.
Most churches are filled with old hymnals, stacked up on shelves in the basement. So, here, they are being turned into angels. It requires lots of precise folding and they work on this one simple craft everyday.
I like how the dark red cover of the hymnal serves as the back drop for the angel, set against crisp black and white pages. Pretty cool. Any ideas to update the head and glitter would be appreciated. And I will have two of them. It was so nice to find some kind people around the lake — after, well, you know, the last experience.